Dear readers, I would much rather be curled up getting ready to sleep than doing anything else right now. But here I sit, journaling for you. I thought you should know. Anyways, I'm going to call today one of the good days. I had all my stuff packed last night, so I was able to sleep in until the breakfast place across the street opened. I repeated my order from yesterday, and Sole went crazy with various drinks and dinnerplate-sized blueberry pancakes. He had met his match, so he packed up his leftovers to eat on the trail. We walked to the trailhead together, exchanged phone numbers, and said our goodbye-for-now. I was going to hike slow today to nurse my shin, and Sole is a faster hiker than me even on a good day. I took my time over the last of the Pennsylvania rocks, carefully choosing my foot placement and babying my right leg especially. The morning stiffness receded, and I was able to hike slowly but comfortably. The morning held the only climbing of the day. I bypassed Cove Mountain and Darlington shelters, my just-in-case stopping points for the day, and descended a short distance into Cumberland Valley. From there, my walk to Boiling Springs would be completely flat.I resisted the urge to take off and continued my slow and steady pace, still making good time. I walked behind housing developments, under and over roads, and through cornfields. This section of trail used to be an 18-mile road walk, and I very much appreciated being spared that experience. I stopped to eat my lunch at the Scott Farm Trail Work Center, which I didn't really understand, but they had a picnic table and a water source. I wrote in the trail register to declare my presence, and I was off. On the next section, I tried something new. I popped in my ear buds and listened to stand-up comedy. That worked well for about an hour and a half, but then I reverted to the semi-silence of the trail. The flatness got to me, and I was sore in weird ways in my glutes. I yearned for the climbing of yester-month, but decided not to complain about easy trail. A short afternoon shower rolled through to get me wet, but the sun was shining again when I walked into Boiling Springs. I grabbed a couple of food items I needed then set out to find a dinner place. Sole was nowhere to be found in town, so I wandered around alone. I first set my sights on the Boiling Springs Tavern for obvious reasons, but the sign out front said something about "appropriate dress required", so I bounced over to the pizza place. This turned out to be a good, tasty, economical, time-saving decision. I got free refills on Pepsi and drank them like a gremlin. Soon enough, the sun got low and I headed to the campsite south of town, the only place you're technically allowed to camp in this 18-mile stretch. To my surprise, Sole isn't here as planned. Knowing him, he saw the day was still young and continued on. I really don't mind camping alone, but camping with company is usually preferred. Tonight I am sleeping next to a cornfield at the nosebleed-inducing elevation of 514 feet, sweating my tuchus off. These low elevations just aren't the same!
I think my shin will be all set to go tomorrow. Again, I have lots of chances to cut my day short. Ideally, I will cross the physical halfway point of the trail. Also, I will pass the Pine Grove General Store, home of the Half-Gallon Challenge, an AT ritual. For eating a half-gallon of ice cream, hikers are rewarded with a tiny commemorative wooden spoon. I'm not sure if I want to risk ruining my day yet, so this will have to be another spur-of-the-moment decision. Unless I'm done hiking for the day at that point, I think the answer will be no frank you.
Nobo count: 0
Sobo count: 1.5